Photo of the Week

—– January 29, 2024 —–


The Flanders Gun Club 


The Flanders Gun Club. (Image [edited] from the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library & Archives.) 

Flanders became well known throughout the greater New York area as a secluded retreat for sportsmen. In 1891, eager to take advantage of the fish and game that were available, the exclusive Flanders Gun Club erected its headquarters adjacent to one of the area’s grandest hotels, Captain Robert W. Penney’s Grove House, which had been in operation since 1880.

The interior of the Flanders Gun Club’s lodge was paneled in pine and contained a large stone fireplace, though club members slept and took their meals at the Grove House next door. In 1905, Captain Penney signed a 10-year contract with the Flanders Club giving them control of the hotel’s operations. The agreement stipulated that summer boarders could only be taken in at the club’s discretion, and that the majority of rooms were to be appointed to the club’s members. It was also agreed that hotel use would be reserved for club members and their guests during hunting and fishing seasons.

The Flanders Gun Club, comprised of wealthy New York City businessmen who would spare no expense in their pursuit of sport and relaxation, purchased 3,000 acres in Flanders and leased another 7,000 acres, stocking the ponds and streams and raising thousands of game birds that were later released on club lands. This gave club members exclusive hunting privileges on a majority of the lands from Canoe Place (present-day Shinnecock Canal) westward to Riverhead, and from Shinnecock Bay north to the Peconic Estuary. By about 1920, following a fire that had claimed the lodge, the Flanders Gun Club relocated a few miles east, near the mouth of Mill Creek. In addition to a new lodge, several cabins and outbuildings were constructed, now within the confines of Hubbard County Park.

A few years later, in 1924, prompted by the exclusiveness of the Flanders Gun Club (which had reportedly denied him membership), Wall Street legend Edward Francis Hutton purchased a large tract of land and marsh on Mill Creek, directly opposite the club’s headquarters (see yellow highlighted sections of map). This property had been the homestead of several generations of the Hubbard family. E. F. Hutton expanded the old Hubbard home and created a private hunting retreat of his own, which today is known as Black Duck Lodge.

The Flanders Gun Club continued operations into the 1960s, albeit on a smaller scale. R. Brinkley Smithers, who had inherited the remaining club lands, donated the last remaining parcel of club land, 430 acres, to Suffolk County in 1971. The legacy of the Flanders Gun Club lives on in the virtually undeveloped parklands of Suffolk County’s Hubbard and Sears Bellows parks.

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian 


A Sportsman’s Paradise, now on exhibit in our Grand Staas Gallery.

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